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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nathaniel's E-Journal October 2010: A Stroll Down The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Memory Lane...


 Today I signed my first contract with a movie studio.  Who'd have thought it.  After five years of writing, rejections, publishing my first short story and then several novels,  one of my works is going to be made into a movie.  It's been a heady experience, even for a guy who's been around for so long.  
I didn't have to come all the way out to here to Hollywood to do the signing, but I wanted to.  It had been a long time since my last trip out here and I wanted to see how much things had changed.  

As usual I waited until evening to make my pilgrimage and began exploring the streets.  Eventually I found myself wandering down the Walk of Fame.  I hadn't even realized it at first, which goes to show how much my head was still in the clouds from my movie deal.  But when I did notice I couldn't believe whose name was on the star at my feet.


For a moment I couldn't move and had to fight back the red-stained tears that wanted to come.  But I knew a man crying blood would really cause a commotion, or a land me a movie role with my luck. so I held them back and just kept staring at the star.  

I remembered the first time I saw him on stage.  It was my job that night to man the 'crook' (the comedic giant hook) to pull acts that were bombing off the stage (which I sometimes hated).  I never liked seeing anyone fail, bu sometimes it was for the performers own good.  You never knew what might get thrown at you instead of a rotten tomato.  The crowds could get pretty ugly some nights.

But on this night I was told that the performer wanted it to be used.  So I did as I was told.  Next thing I knew this big, heavy fellow came out on stage and began singing and oh what a voice he had.  It was so lovely, but some people in the crowd started booing and tossing things onstage.  I didn't know it at the time, but those people were put there by the stage manager, so Mr. Arbuckle could dodge and tease as he continued his song.  The man was so nimble I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was like watching someone moving on air, especially when he danced.  I was so transfixed I almost forgot to do my job and try to use the oversized hook to get him.  But I remembered just in time and almost got him... almost.  The man somersaulted out of the way and wound up in the pit with the musicians, making the audience go wild. 

Afterwards, I went to find the fellow to congratulate him on a fantastic performance.  As I searched for him, I asked one of the other performers where I could find the man.  I hadn't caught Roscoe's name and had to describe him to which the fellow I was asking said, "Oh you mean Fatty, that's what we all call him."

Instinctively, my back stiffened.  I'd known a number of soldiers who got unflattering nicknames, which they hated and I refused to repeat.  Straightening up I said evenly, "The man has a real name you know?"

As soon as those the words left my lips, a voice behind me said,  "Yes I do.  It's Roscoe Arbuckle and I'm pleased to meet you."

Turning I saw the man I'd been seeking who gave me a big warm smile and a hearty handshake.  It was the first of many encounters.  I found Roscoe to have a heart bigger than his frame.  He'd let me help him practice routines and songs, as well as teaching me how to take pratfalls and do comedy.  I had many mentors when it came to learning how to be funny, but Roscoe was the first.  I got so good, he wanted to use me out on stage, but I wasn't ready.  Some of his performances took place in the daytime and of course I could only operate at night.  This puzzled him at first, but later on he learned my secret (a tale for another time) and quickly understood.

But our friendship continued to grow and blossom, as did I under his guidance.  By the time four brothers: Arthur, Julius, Leonard, Milton and Herbert (better known as The Marx Brothers), entered my life I was very well versed in comedy.  However, when Hollywood beckoned we had to say farewell for a time.  He had wanted me to come with him and I readily agreed.  However, the studios insisted on some test footage be shot.  Roscoe knew about my condition by this time and insisted on doing the shooting himself.  So he and I, along with his cousin Al St. John shot a few scenes only to discover that film could not capture my image.  The footage, which I still possess and have carefully had restored, is quite funny.  It looks as thought Roscoe and Al are dealing with an invisible ghost who's handing or tossing things to them.  For a brief while Roscoe thought about using me anyway for such a film, but it would've meant others finding out about what I was so the idea was scrapped and I went back to Vaudeville.


However, Roscoe and I kept in touch regularly and visited each other frequently.  Every so often on a rainy day when he was shooting indoors, I got to visit the set and met his protege' Buster Keaton.  As it turned out I already knew Buster from his early days as a child star when he'd performed with his parents.  

I also got to meet Roscoe's dog and fellow star Luke.  Luke was an English Pitbull who belonged to Roscoe's wife Minta Durfee.  She'd gotten the dog as a bonus from one of her producers after she'd pulled off  rather dangerous stunt for a movie.  Luke was a sweetheart and took to me right away.  To this day I still consider Luke one of the most talented animals I'd ever met.  I often model my 'Black Puppies' after him, especially their behavior.  He was such a fun dog.


Looking down at the star I sighed quietly and said, "Well Roscoe, I'm finally making my mark here in Hollywood.  I hope I do you proud, old friend."  With that I looked around to make sure no one was around or looking at me.  Then I did a few steps from Roscoe's "Butcher Boy" film, remembering how he'd taught it to me, and then took a bow.  

After that I moved on.  But as I did so I heard a faint clapping coming from behind me.  I turned but didn't see anyone.  Not that they couldn't have been hidden someplace, but a part of me liked to think Roscoe was giving me the applause he'd always felt I'd been denied so many years ago.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nathaniel's E-Journal May 2006 - I'm Now A Published Author

As I sit here typing my mind is still in a whirl.  The idea that something I've written is actually getting published seems unreal.  Then again a lot of things I've done in my long life feel that way.


The first time I stepped out onto a stage in vaudeville to play a part in one of the Marx Brothers routines I felt the same way.  I'd been helping out in their rehearsals and knew the routine by heart, so when Gummo wasn't able to appear with his brothers one night, I was drafted then and there.  I'm proud to say that I did not suffer stage fright, but that was mostly because I had Julius, Arthur and Leonard with me.  I knew they had my back and I wasn't about to let them down.  In a way, it was like being back in the Union Army, where I knew I had a bunch of guys watching out for me just as much as I was keeping an eye out for them.  When we finished our routine they made sure I took a bow with them.  After that I started finding myself on stage a number of times with some of the other acts who knew me pretty well.

But I digress.  As my second semester taking writing classes was drawing to a close, one of my instructors urged me to try and submit a few of my short stories to a few magazines for publication.  This was in March and I trusted my instructor's judgement and with their help I prepared a cover letter, synopsis and a sample of one of my stories.  Needless to say the results were pretty much what I half expected...


Not to say I wasn't a little hurt, but my instructor was like, "Good, now you're really on your way to being an author."  Needless to say I gave her a very curious look, but nodded and kept trying.  Withing weeks the responses, or rather more rejections, came rolling in...


Yet in spite of this, Brian, his family, fellow students, and even other members of the English and Literature faculty kept urging me on.  So I kept at it.  Finally, yesterday, I got a response from of all magazines Playboy, who wanted to publish one of my stories. It was one I submitted on a whim to their college fiction contest last year.  I didn't win mind you, but one of the editors kept it on file because he thought it was really good.  

In any case, somehow they were looking to fill space and he remembered my story and contacted me saying they wanted to run it.  Naturally I said yes so next month, my first published short story will be coming out in Playboy Magazine.  I'm hoping the readers like it, or at least those who read Playboy for the articles, all of two of them.

Still, to have my first published story appear in a magazine of that caliber is an honor.  I'm hoping it will help springboard me into other publications or at least get my name out there.  Or rather my pseudonym Daniel Bachmann.  Bachmann was my mother's maiden name and Daniel was my grandfather's name.   Too many people out there know or heard of Nathaniel Steward over the last few decades who don't know my secret.  So a fake name just seemed more appropriate on this occasion.

So my first published work will be sandwiched somewhere in between naked women and... now I'm jealous.  Time to head out and enjoy some nightlife.  I hear there's plenty of great places here in London, and the lights at night are beautiful.  Who knows, I might get an idea for a few more stories.  Yup... I'm a writer all right.  Always thinking about the next tale.







Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nathaniel's E-Journal December 2005 "Much Ado About Writing"

I'm back in "The Crypt" after having attended the last of my two writing classes for this semester... THANK GOD!   It's been a brutal four months but I made it.  Coming down the steps tonight I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.


When the semester began I thought taking creative and fiction writing classes would be a breeze.  I figured after spending the last sixty years earning two Master's Degrees, a Doctorate and half a dozen Associates and Bachelors I'd be used to writing by now.  But I was wrong.  Oh Lord how I was wrong.

The kind of writing I'd done in the past had been all academia.  I'd been taught how to write for an audience of experts in the field who were already familiar with the topics I was discussing.  I was entering a conversation so to speak where I had to find a way to insert my own ideas while acknowledging what had been already learned.  It was less personal and more cold and fact based.

But writing short stories was a completely new experience, and a very rough one at that.



We started writing the very first day of class so the instructors could see where we were at individually.  My first paper came back covered in so much red, I had to go downstairs to make sure my blood supply hadn't accidentally leaked on it before I turned it in.  After I was sure that hadn't happened, I began to wonder whether or not I should invest in red ink stocks before the semester got any further.  At this rate I'd have made my money back and then some just on my homework.

But things started to get better after that.  Both instructors really started breaking things down into plotting, creative thinking, pacing, point of view, voice, and so many other things.  I began to see how important it was to have a good idea of where you were going with a story.  I tried different methods of plotting my stories including the wall method which kind of got out of hand at one point.


Eventually I wound up using a 'loose outline' to help guide me.  I tried the traditional kind of outline where I clearly had everything planned out from start to finish, which worked, but it didn't quite feel right sometimes.  I'd be working a scene where suddenly I'd have a flash of inspiration which I felt would really make the story more exciting, but it would totally break away from the outline I had so painstakingly perfected.  So I discarded the new idea and stuck to the plan, but a part of me would keep wondering "What if I had used that idea?"  To make things worse this kept happening, so I consulted my instructors who told me to not be so rigid and to maybe explore some of those other ideas after I shared some of them.  One told me, "As long as these ideas enhance the plot and still lead to the ending you have in mind, explore them.  It sounds as if you could've really added a new angle to some of your characters and let the reader get to know them more personally."


So I went back to my laptop and began anew.  I slowly began to understand that what I was being taught in the classrooms were tools and guidelines, not step by step "you have to follow these  instructions to the letter or you'll fail" which was the way I'd been taught in my other classes in the past.  Plus, I had to get to know and understand who my new audience was and what they expected of me.  Eventually, I thought back to when I would tell stories about some of my old friends from vaudeville, the wars, and my childhood to others who knew my secret.  Once I started thinking in those terms I quickly found my 'voice' and the words started to come more easily.

Once this happened my grades began to shoot up.  I still wound up with a B in both classes, but that was because I started out so rough at the beginning.  But tonight, one of my instructors pulled me aside and complimented me on how far I'd come in just one semester.  She was really impressed at how I had learned to capture the voices of my characters as well as describe the settings from different eras in history.  "It was like you were really there..." she told me at one point.  Naturally I had to keep my mouth shut on that point, but still it was quite the compliment.

My other instructor advised me to keep practicing during the holidays and to take his next class in the Spring which would be more advanced.   He thinks I might be able to try submitting a few of my short stories by the summer if I keep this up.  So that is exactly what I plan to do in between visiting some of my extended family during that time.  I need to be in Connecticut by Christmas Eve, as Jason and his family will be expecting me.  Plus there are a few others out that way, I can drop in on as I make my way to New York and a few other places along the east coast.

I find myself smiling now as I sit here at my favorite table in my club.  This had been a very rough semester, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.  Writing has opened up whole new avenues for me both mentally and emotionally.  I'm using my artist's eye to observe what goes on around me, but now I'm using words as well as paints to capture certain moments.  It's wondrous really and I can't get enough of it.  I want to keep doing this for as long as possible.  I have so many stories to tell already as well as the ones I've yet to experience and share.

A part of me is actually rather eager for February to arrive so I can try and take my new skills to the next level.  But I remind myself that I mustn't forget to live in the here and now. For stories are all fine and good, but being able to draw from life makes them extra special.  Not only to the reader to but to me.  So before I write some of those stories I must live and experience them first.

From where I'm sitting I can see the window looking out onto the steps that lead down here.  I can see it's snowing and now I have a hankering to be out in it.  I want to feel the flakes hitting my face and watch how it transforms the neighborhood.  Yeah, it's time to go out and make some more memories and have a bit of fun I can share in my writing one day down the road.





 




Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lisa's Private Thoughts July 4th, 20--


Happy 4th of July Everyone!


Tonight's fireworks display was spectacular as always.  I have to say here in Pointer we know how to party.  There was a huge barbecue in the park as always where most of the families converged.  Marisa, me and a few others like Teddy had blast.  There was the annual softball game, frisbees flying everywhere, and the traditional water balloon toss.  And as per usual, the waterballoon game turned into an all out water pistol fight thanks to 'certain' individuals who's name begins and ends with the letter N.  Naturally, Uncle Nathan denies the charges even though he was the one who handed me a couple of the water pistols himself claiming they were "Strictly for self-defense."

He doesn't realize I saw him pull another one out of his costume and nailed Marisa with it.  Then he had the nerve to tell her it was me who started it and then handed her a couple of weapons so she could get even.

Amazingly, he managed to stay dry the whole time.  I think it was the outfit that got him spared. 


Dressing up like Richard Henry Lee, the representative from Virginia who first called for the colonies to break away from England during the Second Continental Congress, was a masterstroke.  No one had the heart to mess up his outfit.  Plus it allowed Uncle Nathan to disappear and reappear throughout the festivities as needed.  I know he had to keep hitting the red stuff in order to stay outside on a hot sunny day like this.  And of course, the guise allowed him to wander among all the families, including those who had no idea who or what he really was.  He does this sort of thing every time he spends the Fourth of July with us, which is like every other year.  

After the great water battle ended, a bunch of us felt like cooling in the shade for a while and headed for the large canopy where Uncle Nate was relaxing.  His face was a bit red so I knew he'd just had another bag or two of blood, which meant he'd be good for another couple of hours.  By then the sun would be setting and things would cool off and he'd be all right.

Remembering he needed to 'stay in character' I asked, "Mr. Lee, how does this celebration compare to the ones that took place years ago?  Have they changed much?"



Smiling he began speaking, "Well, my dear, back in my day the morning would start with artillery fire, which woke up most of the town who hadn't already been up.   Then there'd be some cannon and musket firing a little later and there would be a parade.  There'd be music, marching soldiers, and of course there would be speaker who'd gone on for about an hour or two.  Then the real fun began, at least for the men.  They'd head to a tavern while the women went home and took the children with them..."

At that point I had to butt in.  "Hold it, you're saying the women went back to their drab daily lives while the guys partied?  Am I the only girl here who finds that offensive?"

A loud "NO" erupted from all around me, which pretty much included every mom who was present.


Undaunted, Uncle Nathan continued, "I quite agree ladies.  Which is probably why things started changing around the 1850's.  Then the celebrations became more like what we have these days.  Oh there were still the parades, cannons, and muskets, but then most families would to on a picnic and watch the fireworks at night."

Here he paused and glanced around at his audience which had grown considerably, "We've had fireworks since the very first celebration, for those who didn't know.  And yes, we were careful not to burn down the entire town while doing it.  That's another thing that hasn't changed.  We were very proud of our accomplishment and how our country managed to hang in there and stay together.  Oh we've always had our differences of political opinion and what should and shouldn't be allowed, but America has always managed to hang together.  And that's because the people stuck together.  Here in West Virginia we fought to free people who had been denied their rights to be citizens because of skin color.  As a nation we later fought to keep aggressors from threatening our way of life and that of others overseas, not only once but on many occasions.  America was made up of immigrants and welcomed even more who brought many customs and ideas which became part of everyone's life.  And we have to remember that.  Some people complain about others not learning how to speak, read, or write in English, but not everyone did when we first started out.  Some cannot learn because they're too old or unwell and we have to make allowances for that and remember that none of our ancestors knew the native tongues of those who were living here before WE arrived.  But they were tolerant and tried to understand us because they knew some of us came to escape persecution.  In New York harbor there's a very tall lady who still welcomes everyone who wants a chance at a better life or to escape some kind of threat.  Patience, tolerance and understanding is what she represents as well as a second chance at a better life. May we all remember that and try to live up to those promises."

With that he raised a glass and wished us all a Happy Fourth of July and finished with "God Bless America and all who come to her shores."  Once more everyone cheered and I thought, so this is what the 4th of July was like when he was a boy.  We had a parade, a bit of cannon fire, muskets, a huge picnic, comeraderie and now we'd had a speaker.  A speaker who managed to reach out to his audience and make us really think.  And in a few hours we'd have fireworks.   Yeah, this is what the 4th of July should be like.  Thanks Uncle Nathan.





  







Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Sneak Peak Into My Latest Novel "The Door"...

Another note from the author: For today's installment of the blog, I thought I'd give you all a sneak peak into my current work-in-progress (WIP).  "The Door" is the third installment of my Para-Earth Series which has involved Alex Hill, Veronica Ross, Cassandra Elliott, Jason Cloudfoot, and Julie Cloudfoot.  

For those who've been reading the blog you may recognize the names of Jason, Julie and Veronica from the novelette I posted on this blog around Christmas of last year.  The story took place in 1999 and also starred Nathan.  I had done that story to link the two sets of characters so I could do further crossovers with them down the road.  Originally I had not planned on having Nathan show up in "The Door" but time and an evolving story changed all that.  

The epilogue of "The Door" will help lead directly into "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home", while also allowing you all to see Nathan in action among those who have had a history with him, but do NOT know his secret.  This will also allow me to introduce you all to other characters who will be starring in their own stories down the road.  For now, please enjoy Nathan's first guest appearance in "The Door"...




The recently repaired cottage that had belonged to Julie’s late uncle, stood silent and empty.  While nearby, the wide stream that had been the site of the nightmare battle, swiftly rushed past the crumbled remains of the bridge still attached to each bank.  Overlooking this quiet scene, the Graham Manor stood like a ghostly sentinel.
From the woods near the cottage a white wolf emerged.  The beast silently made its way to the water’s edge and took a drink.  Then it gazed up at the manor on the other side of the wide stream.  Most of the structure’s dark secrets had been revealed, but not all of them.  There were still more to be uncovered, it knew.  But that was for another to deal with. 
The animal had come here for another reason and lay down to wait. 
Overhead, the glaring sun was slowly eclipsed by gathering clouds which eventually cast a dark veil across the landscape.  Still the wolf did not move. 
Suddenly, the animal’s ears perked up as the sound of a train’s whistle echoed in the distance.  Had anyone familiar with the area been standing there with the animal, they would have been puzzled by the sound.  The nearest rail line in use was on the other side of town and could not be heard from here.
Just then, the whistle cried out again.  This time it sounded closer. 
Immediately the great wolf stood up and padded away from the stream and past the cottage.  Soon the animal reached the road and quickly crossed after making sure no one would see it.  Once it reached the far side of the asphalt, the beast slipped into the meadow, disappearing among the tall blades of grass and weeds.  Only the occasional ripples with the swath of green told of the wolf’s passing. 
Where the meadow ended the animal emerged and moved into the trees that bordered the grassland.  The wolf carefully made its way through the tall pines and suddenly found itself in an open space in the middle of the forest.  For a moment the animal stood still.  It could see the other edge of the forest began again some fifty yards away.  But looking left and right, the wolf could see a swathe of dirt and grass, which almost completely obscured an old set of railroad tracks. 


Trains carrying lumber, coal and other goods had passed through this way for decades, until the advent of highways and trucking.  Then the line was abandoned leaving the steel rails and ties to rot and rust in the dirt.  
The wolf could tell from the dull luster of the rails that nothing had passed over them for a number of years.  But that was about to change.
Moving to one side the great wolf sat down on his haunches and waited.  Once more the sound of the whistle shattered the quiet of the forest, and soon a plume of smoke could be seen above the trees in the distance.  In another few moments an old steam locomotive from another time appeared from around the bend.  Behind the great iron engine followed a series of railway cars whose like had not been seen since in decades. 
They were painted like circus cars, only their colors were muted and almost gray. Words were splayed across each one, but the animal did not bother to look at them.  He knew what they said and who would be on board.
The huge engine began to slow as it drew near where the wolf stood, stopping only a few feet beyond where the animal awaited.  A great hiss of steam burst forth from beneath the engine and became quiet.
For a moment, time seemed to freeze.  Then a lone figure emerged from the nearest car.  He had short blonde hair and a youthful face.  Looking up into the sky he smiled and turned to the wolf.  “Did you do that?  Or is it just good timing?” he asked, stepping down from the car.
The wolf made no sound as it approached him.
Slowly, the man’s face fell as the animal reached him.  Kneeling down so they could be face to face he whispered, “I’m so sorry.  If I had known I would’ve come sooner.  Why didn’t he call for me?”
The white beast looked at him and then back to the woods it had come through. 
“I think he wants you to follow him,” said a woman’s voice from inside the train. 
Turning the young man found his bags had already been unloaded from the rail car. 
“Go with him and see what’s happened.  We’ll remain here as long as you need us to,” the unseen woman’s voice continued.  “Whatever has happened, I have a feeling it’s not over.”
Nodding the man grabbed his bags and followed the wolf back through the woods the animal had come through.  

So there you have it my friends.  Nathan's arrival.  If you wish I may share one or two more scenes from the book, but only if you ask for it.  As always, I ask you leave your thoughts and wishes in the comments below.  


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Brian's E-Journal - "The Soldier"



The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years.  The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held.  At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound,  and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen.  It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all.  He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during the war between the states, telling tales of bravery and humanity.  Then, once he finished, the figure marched back the way he came only to be swallowed by a mist that seemed to come from nowhere.


This happened again the following year, and every year after that.  At first most people just assumed him to be a magician who had served alongside those who had died.  Yet, none of those who had come home recognized the fellow.  In fact, no one could even really describe his features even if he had been standing next to them.  They could distinctly remember his uniform which had clearly belonged to the West Virginia 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  He had all the bearing of a soldier, but even if they looked up into his face all they could remember was that he was young, with a kind face, which had born witness to the horrors of the battlefield.  But none of them could actually describe his face in detail.

Naturally the idea that the fellow was a ghost began to spread among the children and a handful of adults.  But after thirty years passed and those children who had seen him close up could honestly say he had not aged in that time, that others began to believe the tale.  



Throughout the decades, he has always appeared, never once missing a Decoration Day.  And with each visit, he shared new stories about those who had served and fell in the Civil War.  But it wasn't until the end of the Great War that this began to change.  In 1919, one year after World War I ended, a new monument was erected in the town square with the names of those who had left Pointer to fight overseas.  On that occasion the soldier appeared and shared several stories about those who had been lost on the battlefields of Europe.

From that day on he continued to appear on Remembrance Day (now called Veteran's Day) as well as on Memorial Day.


By this time few, if any, doubted the Soldier's existence.  In fact many began to welcome his strange visits, but not all.  Those who were too traumatized by their loss, could not bear to see him come.  In particular there had been Violet Parker, who had been engaged to James Moore who fell at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in 1918.  When the Soldier appeared again on Remembrance Day in 1920, she rushed at him brandishing a pistol from her father's collection and shot him point blank.  The Soldier did not flinch, nor did he fall.  Instead, he gently took the weapon from her shaking hands, and  pulled her close.  She resisted at first, but then began to calm down.  Those who dared approach them could hear his voice speaking gently to her in sympathy.  Soon Violet slipped her arms around him and held him tightly.  Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked back to where her father stood.  For the rest of her long life, she was happier than anyone could remember, and strongly rebuked anyone who spoke ill of the Soldier or of anyone who served their country.

The addition of new names and stories of those who served that the Soldier spoke of continued with  each passing year.  Whether they were lost in peacetime or during America's entry into World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and of course Afghanistan, he made sure no one forgot them or their service.  And today was no exception.  He spoke of the town's most recent losses with such feeling, one was convinced he had personally known, or had watched each one of them grow into fine young men and women.

Of course, I and a number of others know this happens to be the truth.  There are at least a dozen families here in Pointer that know of Uncle Nate.  And they preserve his secret with fierce loyalty, just as mine does.  It is a loyalty based on love and respect.  Whether he's the 'Soldier' or just the family friend or godfather, he has been there for all of us over the decades.  Our dark guardian, the soldier who even when he does not wear the uniform, is always on duty.  Ready to defend and protect all of us and our town, just has he did the day he marched off to war at the age of 16, back in 1862.

God bless him and all the men and women who have served, and will serve.








Monday, May 18, 2015

Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party"... Conclusion

My heart was in my throat as he pulled me close for one last spin and I whispered, "I love you Uncle Nathan."



"I know," he smiled and finished our dance by putting me in a dip.  "But, it's Nathan or Nathaniel from now on.  You're not a little girl anymore Lisa.  And since I age way slower than anyone else around here, having you still call me 'uncle' is going to get people wondering and I can't have that."

Stunned and a little disappointed I nodded and muttered, "Okay, Nathan."

Then he stood me upright and kissed my hand, while the room broke out in thunderous applause.  I smiled as best I could under the circumstances.  I'd just declared my love for this man and all he could say was "I know..." and then told me to drop the 'uncle' part.  This was NOT how I had hoped things would go.  What the hell had just happened?

But before I could dwell on things further some of my friends rushed over and dragged me to one of the crystal tables so we could sit and talk.  I was too stunned to do anything but go along and soon, they had me in a much better mood.  Yet, I couldn't believe how Nathan had reacted to what I'd said to him.  Did he think I wasn't serious?  I offered him my heart for crying out loud!  

I tried to hold onto my annoyance with him, but it was slowly forgotten as friends handed me presents and told me how blown away they were by how much my family had done to set this place up.  My dad had been passing by at that moment and said, "Actually, this was all Nathan's doing.  He's spent the last few months planning this party and getting things arranged.  Mind you he did consult with us and we gave the approval.  But most of this was him."

"Oh my God, I want to see if he'll help set up my next birthday," one of the girls sighed.  "This is so cool.  I mean look, we can even see our reflections in the table."

Suddenly I stiffened and looked down.  



Sure enough, she was right.  I could see all their reflections in the tabletop, along with my own.  Panicking I looked around and spotted Nathan coming towards us.   Forgetting how angry I was with him I jumped up out of my seat and intercepted him saying, "I want another dance," and dragged him out onto the floor.

Then I remembered how shiny and polished the dance floor would be and looked down.  Immediately I let out a sigh of relief.  The entire floor was covered by a thin was covered by a thin layer of colored fog.  


Immediately I let out sigh of relief.  

As if reading my mind Nathan smiled. "I thought about how shiny the floor is and how it shows people's reflections," he said proudly.  

In the background a slow song came on and I allowed him to pull me in for a slow Rumba.  I tried not getting too close to him, but when dancing a Rumba you have to be practically joined at the waist.  

"Too bad you didn't think about the crystal tables!" I shot back.  "They show reflections too!"

Immediately, his face turned into a mask of embarrassment.  For several seconds he kept opening and closing his mouth without saying a word.  Finally he managed one word, "Oops." 

"Is that all you can say for yourself!  Oops!" I hissed "Not everyone here knows about you!"

"Which is why all the mirrors on the walls and in the restrooms are made without silver," he pointed out.  "They use a different backing that does reflect my image, so we're safe.  Why are you so upset?"

"Because..." I began but then my words disappeared.  

But once again, he seemed to know my thoughts and said quietly, "I know you meant it when you said you love me, Lisa.  And believe me, of all the people and godchildren I've watched over these last fifteen decades, you've become extremely dear and important to me.  So I'll make you this offer.  It's one I've made to others before, but as you know, no one's taken me up on it."

Catching my breath I nodded, "Go on."

"As I said earlier, you're no longer a child but a young woman," he said brushing my cheek with his as he leaned in close so only I could hear him.  "But I'm over a hundred and fifty years old.  I look like I'm in my late twenties.  I need you to catch up a bit first.  So, I want you to LIVE!  You must go on dates, go places, see things, maybe fall in love a couple of times along the way.  Some of them won't work out, but one might.  But if  none have by the time you've gotten closer to my 'apparent' age, if you still want to be with me... if I'm still the one you want to love and marry, I WILL make you my bride."

"Really?  You mean it?" I gasped pulling back so I could look straight at him.  Even before he could reply, I could see the answer in his blue eyes, he meant every word.

Still he answered, "Yes," as the fog suddenly rose up and hid us from sight.  That was when he kissed me, I mean really kissed me, as if we were already lovers.


After several moments our lips parted.  Before he could speak I told him, "Now I can hardly wait to hit my late twenties."

"But you have to live first," he gently reminded me.  "You have to get out and enjoy life.  Date other people and explore the world."

"I will," I promised as we finished our dance and the fog slowly fell back to the floor.

That was of course the highlight of the night for me.  Mind you, the rest of the evening was just as fantastic.  Marisa did make an appearance but could only stay an hour, but still it meant a lot to me. I spent the rest of the evening walking on air.  It's been a magical night and one I will always remember and treasure.

And I will keep my promise to Nathan.  I will start dating and exploring all that life and the world have to offer.  Then, when I turn twenty-nine, unless my life has taken an unexpected turn, I will go to him and become his wife.